Dell may start to sell its machines in high street stores in a bid to increase revenue from consumer PC sales. Dell said yesterday it was "experimenting" with new ways of selling computers alongside its typical approach of online or phone sales directly to customers.

The Dell announcement came after analysts warned that if the computer maker wanted to keep up with HP and Apple , it would need to change the way it offers its products to customers.

A Dell spokesman said the company would do what it takes to reach consumers, who currently generate around 15 per cent of its revenue. Dwayne Cox, said the company is still committed to its 23-year policy of selling machines directly to customers, but is open to "experimentation".

"What we're really interested in is the most direct path to the customer and the relationship that develops by taking the most direct path," Cox told Reuters . "Clearly, we're going to do the experimentation necessary to determine what that path is for customers in existing and emerging markets."

Since its founding in 1984, Dell has resisted repeated calls by analysts and investors to go into retail sales. However, HP surpassed Dell as the world's leading computer maker at the end of last year and, after it posted impressive financial results earlier this week, perhaps Dell will reconsider.

"They have to either open their own stores, or start working with the CompUSAs and the Circuit City's of the world," said Shaw Wu, an analyst at American Technology Research .

J.P. Gownder, an analyst at Forrester Research , agreed: "They need to find a way to have a retail component that allows consumers to touch and see the products they are trying to sell." He added that Dell should consider opening its own stores, similar to the worldwide Apple Stores .

Dell is due to report its fourth-quarter results on 1 March.